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Jan Burkhardt // Teacher
IDOCs » enthusiasm as essential quality in teaching
planning/not planning a class preparation and presence in teaching teaching means sharing knowledge

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Enthusiasm in teaching & some thoughts on how to  prepare 

 When I started to teach dance and movement about 12 years ago, I used to write a plan about what I would like to do, which exercises, make a rough time-line, and aim for a satisfying „dramaturgical bow“ of class ( or workshop etc.).

 One of my most influential theachers , Peggy Hackney ( one of the most influential Laban-Bartenieff-teachers), will always remain to be a model for this way of preparing and teaching, since she kept amazing me with her fine-tuned and reflected yet very present and open-for-the-moment-design of class.

I still adore her for this capacity.

 I sometimes did what I had written down, sometimes I altered some of it, sometimes I dropped most of it. So it went.

 Throughout the time I  made less and less notes, without having made a concious decision about it. More and more  I just came to class and started from where I was in this particular moment, certainly with a backpack of knowledge, intention and somehow  “plan“ at least in the back of my head or the nuclei of my cells.  I more and more went from my own needs and desires in the moment of starting class, physically and mentally.

Up to the point where I stopped writing down anything. I even started to sense a blockage to write anything down before class.

 For the last 3 years or so, I have been teaching mostly this way, and now it´s the first time I am writing about it.

 When I remember all the teachers I´ve had in my life, independent from the subject, and think about what made a “good“ teacher for me,  the common ground certainly is enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm for the material,  for the students, for the moment.

The very best teachers for me shared enthusiastic knowledge, presence, sensitivity , sense of humor, sense of timing , deep listening, modesty, clarity, honesty and openess to hear, feel, change.   That`s a lot of words, but to me, they are all profoundly related.

 To me , teaching means to share knowledge, but maybe even more it is to share a particular space in a particular time, and to be focused and open to the situation.

 Many times I wondered and wonder if, since I stopped to write down any preperation plan, I am actually preparing for class or if I really just “show up“ and start.

I guess that teaching has become such deep practise for me, that my preperaton operates on the most profound layers of my system, which is to aim to be open for space and time in any moment, and to share what I find with others.

Which doesn`t mean that one day I may come back to make notes in order to prepare class.


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Fiona Millward // Teacher
I absolutely couldn't agree more with this. Without enthusiasm where does one start?!

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Nicola Balhuizen Hepp Eligible Member // Teacher
Yes, enthousiasm and dedication to the material and to the students. Also for me qualities that define a good teacher. And I would like to add curiosity as well.

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Liisa Pentti Eligible Member // Teacher
Nice to read your thoughts- enthusiasm is very essential for my teaching as well-and I still make notes my classes through writing and drawing. The note making is a preparation even though in most cases i don´t look at the notes while "in action". I like to spend some time by my notebook before the class and collect the thoughts and eventually some new thoughts. My notebooks are my diaries.

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